I just completed my certification in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell and now I’m reflecting on the experience. Was it worth the cost? Did I learn anything? Would I recommend it?
If you’re thinking of enrolling in this 6-week online course, this post is for you.
In this post, I will break down everything from how to enroll to getting your certificate. I cover the pros and cons, as well as the real time required each week, quality of instruction, value of the content, and more.
Let’s dive in!
1. How and where do I enroll?
The Plant-Based Nutrition certification is offered by the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies (TCCCNS) and eCornell. You can enroll both on the eCornell (Cornell University’s online education) website or on the TCCCNS website. Both websites direct to the same enrollment page. Enrollment dates begin every 2 weeks, year-round. Courses are released on their respective start dates. Here is a screenshot of my Dashboard, taken after I completed all 3 courses:
2. What does it cost?
The advertised price is $1260, although in my experience there is almost always a 15% discount code that you can use. You can find this code on the TCCCNS Facebook Page, as well as on the website itself. I found my code directly on the website itself. It had an expiration date of May 31, but I noticed the date extended every few weeks, which told me that it never really expired. It took me a few weeks to decide to enroll, and during that time the discount code ad would pop up on Facebook/Instagram, and Google searches. It “followed” me around the web.
3. How is the course delivered?
The certification consists of 3 courses that you take in sequence, each 2 weeks in length. You can space them out however you want. For example, I took a 2-week break between course 2 and 3 because I was on vacation. The format is 100% online and there is minimal work required, aside from periodic multiple choice quizzes and short-answer responses. The content is delivered in video format, with a couple short readings as well. You must receive 100% on all work, however you have unlimited attempts to do so. Here is a screenshot from the homepage of course 3, Applying the Whole Food Plant-Based Lifestyle:
4. How much time does it take per week?
Time requirement is about 3-4 hours per week. There are a few hard deadlines for quizzes and short answer responses within each 2-week course, but they are very reasonable. In my experience, I was able to meet the deadlines days ahead of time. The video lectures are broken into bite-sized chunks, ranging anywhere from less than 1 minute to about 12 minutes. Most videos are around 3-5 minutes long.
5. Who teaches the course?
All 3 courses are taught by T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Thomas Campbell (authors of The China Study), but I would say that in reality, over half the video lectures are delivered by guest lecturers. The quality of the videos range too, from charismatic speakers to scientists who used a lot of disfluencies (“uhm,” etc). The content is still good, but sometimes it was hard to pay attention.
6. What will I actually learn?
Personally, I did not gain a lot of new information by taking this course. But that is because I already read The China Study and have been living a plant-based lifestyle for a while. I live and breathe this kind of information. However, there is a lot of information packed into these courses! Here are just some of the topics you will cover over the 6 weeks:
- How whole food, plant-based (WFPB) is different from vegan
- The stages of cancer and how it forms in the body
- Formation of and diet’s effect on diabetes, diabesity, obesity, cancer and heart disease
- What causes diabetes and the link between diabetes and animal proteins
- Chemical structure and purpose of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in the human body
- Which supplements are necessary and which aren’t
- Why you should eliminate all added oil from your diet (but not heart-healthy fats!)
- Pesticides, herbicides, and their effect on your body and the environment
- How the government affects the food industry and dietary recommendations
- The state of health in the USA
- The science behind diet and weight loss
- Practical tips on how to adopt a WFPB diet
- And more!
7. How and when do I get my official Certificate?
Even if you finish your last 2-week course in one day, you still need to wait the full 2 weeks to receive your certificate. Once the entire course concludes, eCornell will email you a link to print your certificate. If you want them to mail you a hard copy, it costs an additional $35, and it is literally the same thing as just printing it yourself. I just saved a soft copy in my Google Drive. This is what it looks like:
- 100% online and mostly self-paced
- Video lectures–fold laundry while you watch!
- Unlimited attempts on all quizzes and short answer responses
- Real-time support staff available for questions
- Continuing Education credit available for healthcare professionals
- All information is science-backed and well researched
- Objective lectures–no dogmatic or evangelist vegans
- You cannot watch videos any faster than 1.0. No speeding up slow talkers to 1.5x or 2x the speed.
- Lots of repeat information/charts from The China Study book
- Entire 3rd course is not helpful for those who are already vegan
- No comprehensive exam or another method to retain information
- Course content disappears after course concludes (unless you download slides and audio transcripts, but you lose videos)–no lifetime access!
I would not recommend this course to anyone who is just looking to gain information and learn about plant-based nutrition. If you fall into that category, I recommend you save your money and instead buy The China Study (make sure to get the updated version with the latest science), written by the creators of this course. It contains nearly as much information. Check out my recommended books page for other book recommendations (I am constantly updating that list!).
If you are already vegan and live a plant-based lifestyle and do not work in the industry, this course might not be for you. Again, I recommend instead reading The China Study. It will take less time, cost way less, and provide just as much relevant information. Also, the entire 3rd course (last 2 weeks of certification) is basically “how to be vegan,” with testimonials from other vegans, which is not very helpful for those who already follow a plant-based lifestyle.
If you are looking for CE credits or want to supplement a health coaching or other wellness practice, this course could be for you. I fall into that category. I took this course to supplement my Health Coach training. I find it helpful to be able to tell clients that I have an ivy league certification in plant-based nutrition, as it builds my credentials and demonstrates my level of commitment and knowledge in this field.
Have you completed this certification course? What did you think? I would love to hear about your experience! If you have any other questions, post in the comments below and I will answer 🙂